Olive wood bowl with wheat flour and scoop for home baking. With kitchen towel over gray concrete background. Top view. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Food - Drink
Does Flour Expire, And Can It Be Used Past The Best-By Date?
Tossing away food that's gone past its best-by date is ideal, since you don't want to risk becoming ill or ruining a fabulous recipe with ingredients that are just no longer tasty, but some items are a bit more confusing. Flour can be tricky when it comes to telling if it should be thrown away, but there are some telling signs.
Your first step is to check the flour container, as “best by” typically means the quality of the product will deteriorate beyond that timeframe, “sell by” is when the store should no longer sell it because the quality is impacted, and “use by” is the point you should toss it. Flour exposed to air long, moisture, or pests could be at high risk, but the type of flour also matters.
Self-rising, cake, pastry, and all-purpose flours, called refined white flours, should not be used if they are gray or yellow in color, if you notice any moist lumps, or if it smells sour, and get rid of whole grain flours if they smell unpleasant or if they taste off. The bottom line is, you can use older flour if it doesn't look or smell strange, but it's probably best not to make a habit of it.